En vacances – Day 11 – les grottes de Villars

Anticipation waiting to go in.

Wondering how deep we would go. Under the car park?

Slow realising of the wondrous sights. Beautiful stalactites. And stalagmites. Curtains. Columns. Calcite everywhere!

Awestruck faces at the 20000 year old bear claw marks. Were they still here?

Amazement at the 19000 year old paintings of bison and horses. How could they last so long? Is that older than Nana?

Delicious ice cream in Brantôme on the way home. The shop is in a cave and has 50 different flavours!

Smurfberry was Dibbles’s favourite. Other favourites included salted caramel. Violet. Rose. Yum yum.

En vacances – Day 10 – le vélorail

Beating the satnav by 45 minutes on a 45 minute journey – must be a record.

Dibble’s excitement at seeing the cycle trains.

Level crossings. Bridges. A tunnel.

Getting off at each level crossing and standing in the road to stop the traffic.

My jelly legs 15 minutes from the far end. I’m sure it got steeper as we neared the station.

Ice creams and a seat to recover.

Dawning realisation that the return journey was going to be epic. Being told to take off our hats and sit on them – because we would be travelling so fast they might fly off!

Like a roller coaster! Free wheeling getting faster and faster. Screams of delight.

A picnic in Thiviers by the church.

Home for some pool time and for my legs to recover!

En vacances – Day 8 – la Tour de France

Driving through the mist to Perigueux – much like Northumberland in this weather!

Sighting the yellow bikes on the roundabout.

Finding our spot near the finish. Excitement building. The first support vehicles arriving.

Sponsors vehicles coming through. Such unadulterated joy in the boys’ faces as they realise free stuff is being thrown for them to catch.

Frisbees. Madeleines. Key rings. Hats. Haribos. Bags.

Being sprayed by the hose from the Vittel van.

The sun appeared!

Seeing the first cyclists. Clapping and cheering.

Dibble with his horn from the market – tooting and hooting at every bike and vehicle – much to most people’s smiles. Except the grumpy old woman on the other side of the track – shouting something unintelligible at us in French. We smiled and Dibble kept on tooting!

Pushing through growing crowds as we reach the finish line. Hoards of TV broadcast units.

Meeting an ex colleague and his wife and son for lunch. Big boy worship (our boys, not me!).

En vacances – Day 7 – marché à Brantôme

Taking a wrong turn and finding ourselves driving down the middle of the market.

The prettiness of the town – the old stone bridge. The caves. The narrow streets. The town hall next to the river.

The colours of the canopies in the market.

The intermingling smells of herbs and spices, fresh fruit, cooking chicken, fresh fish…

The excitement of choosing something to buy… For McGrew, it was a leather bracelet; Cuthbert chose a wooden dragonfly like the ones on the river; and a horn fashioned from a cow’s horn for Dibble – and what a sound it makes!

Fresh crêpes from the crêpe van – chocolate, lemon, jam… yum yum.

Home for lunch and then….


Thunder and lightening. Rain.

An afternoon of reading and Minecraft!

En vacances – Day 6 – voyage de canoë

From Bourdeilles to Renamont down the beautiful River Dronne.

Shrieks of delight at the majestic dragonflies – translucent blues and greens and oranges darting across the water. Landing on the canoes. And our heads. And arms and hands!

Getting stuck on rocks and having to get out and push.

Paddling errors resulting in us careering into an overhanging tree covering us with ants and spiders.

The thrill of the weirs – where do we aim for? Will we capsize?

Thick waterweed with beautiful tiny white and yellow flowers.

Cows at the side drinking and saying hello.

McGrew realising this was something he really enjoyed!

Lunch at the little cafe at the end. Ice tea and chips…

An afternoon at the pool in the sunshine.

En vacances – Day 3 – Cherry Trees

Overcast morning.

Breakfast inside.

Le Clerc at Riberac. Wonderful countryside on the way. Finding the right vegetable on the scales and sticking the price on the bag.
Searching the wine aisle and choosing the ones with few remaining (they’ve got to be good, right?!). Dibble asking the fish lady for 8 sardines and getting what he asked for!

Bread, cheese, pate and salad for lunch. With Diabolo Fraise 🙂

Swimming all afternoon in the pool. Trying very hard not to shout and scream!

Barbecue tuna and sardines for tea.

En vacances – Day 2 – Ligny-Thilloy to La Tour Blanche

Torrential rain. Road flooded. Turn around. Sat nav finds an alternate route. 10 minutes later we’re back at the same piece of flooded road! Turn around. Follow our noses. Eventually we find the motorway. Where is a flood engineer when you need one!?

Traffic queues round Paris.

Spying the Eiffel Tower.

Torrential rain. Bright sunshine. Torrential rain. Bright sunshine. Torrential rain.

Sat nav proposes strange route. We follow our noses. Take 2h off the remaining journey time 🙂

La Tour Blanche. Lovely sleepy little village. Met by the wonderful Gilly. We follow her along ever narrower roads until eventually we find The Cherry Trees. What a fantastic old house. In a tiny hamlet. Surrounded by fields of corn and sunflowers.

Exploring the house. The sound of thundering feet and squeals of excitement as more rooms are discovered.

First swim in the pool.

Torrential rain. Bright sunshine.

Sausages, bread and salad for tea.